Radio shows have been calling and asking for comment on the big story in The Houston Chronicle about the imam of the nation's largest Islamic center "fringe comments" and paranoid rhetoric in his weekly sermons. Members of the mosque have expressed concern and complained.
No, it's not what you think. The "fringe" comments are not about jihad, sharia, Islamic Jew-hatred, etc. The flaky imam is warning of a "global population reduction plan" and the dumping of fluoride, Prozac and lithium in the water "to control populations."
This is not self-policing against jihadism in the community; the imam has gone batty and this is recognition of a mental illness. The media is framing this as the Muslim community self-policing itself and ridding itself of "the bad apples." It is no such thing. The imam is a nutbag. But it does show us what the Muslim community should be doing when an imam is inciting to jihad. Those self-policing news stories are the ones we never get.
According to a recent five-year survey of mosques in America, over 80% are teaching, promoting and advancing jihad. We never hear Muslims express concern or complain about that rhetoric. This story only confirms our worst fears of what goes on in the mosques. Only when Muslims speak out against jihad, honor killlings, FGM, and the sharia can we begin to hope that the essential change needed in Islam is beginning to actually happen.
Houston imam's 'fringe' comments draw criticism Houston Chronicle
Over the past several months, frequenters of the Main Center mosque at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, the nation's largest Islamic community organization, have reported strange, slightly paranoid and often incoherent sermons from their head imam.
In April, for instance, leading Friday prayers in front of hundreds of Muslims, Omar Inshanally warned against a "global population reduction plan" and the dumping of fluoride, Prozac and lithium in the water "to control populations," according to Aziz Gilani, a 31-year-old venture capitalist in attendance.
Shocked and disturbed that his top imam was offering views Gilani regarded as "obviously fringe," he recorded part of the sermon and emailed the organization to complain, noting Inshanally's sermon or khutba, "comes in a long series of khutbas that make me very concerned."
Inshanally himself responded, defending his viewpoints in a long email, noting, "EVERY PROPHET faced the accusation that he was MAD."
Rather than accept the teachings of their imam in public and quietly disagree, as is traditional, several young Muslims complained. Others switched mosques. Last Ramadan, there was talk of a petition against 57-year-old Inshanally. The reaction, experts say, mirrors a trend across the country where young Muslims increasingly are speaking out against perceived blots in their community.
"People are allowed to have unusual beliefs," Gilani said. "But when he speaks for Houston Muslims, saying the government and non-Muslims are doing things they're clearly not, we would hate for people to think that's what the normal Houston Muslim thinks."
Growing up in the shadow of 9/11, with the hate crimes and stereotypes that followed, young Muslims in particular are intensely aware of how their faith is regarded by outsiders and feel a need to self-police their own community, experts say.
More Muslim victimhood rhetoric. There was no backlash.
But then increasingly, they galvanized, she said, seeking to reclaim Islam's image in America, correct misconceptions about their faith and root out bad apples in their community. Forty percent of suspected foiled domestic terror plots since 9/11 were brought to the attention of authorities by Muslims, according to a February study by The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in North Carolina.
Peek said young Muslims are saying, "If people are going to be policing our actions, we have to turn inwards and police our own community. It's the only way we can ever fight back against these stereotypes.'"
In Houston, Sameer Soleja, a 31-year-old software entrepreneur, attends the Main Center mosque near West Alabama Street and Kirby Drive several times a month but avoids Inshanally's sermons, about which he has complained.
Saleha Rehman, a dentist who works downtown, called Inshanally's sermons "very skeptical and paranoid kind of talk, 'People are spying on you and people are against you' … they are putting stuff in the water."
In fact, they made Rehman, a 30-year-old Houston native, so uncomfortable that she decided to change mosques and now makes the longer commute to one on Almeda.
Certainly, Inshanally's sermons are not anti-American; indeed, it was he who helped pioneer a YouTube video channel to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, reaching out to Muslim youth vulnerable to extremism.
Rather, they reflect a rambling sort of paranoia. In emailed defenses of his sermons, he rails against a "global population reduction plan advocat(ing) mass sterilization and the murder ('abortion') of infants up to three-years-old." He notes, "cities all across the United States and Canada are banning fluoridating of drinking water."
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